Willems’ double lifts Dragons to second straight win


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Jonathan Willems drilled a tie-breaking two-run double with two outs in the seventh inning while Dayton relievers Eduardo Salazar and Connor Bennett combined for four scoreless innings as the Dragons defeated the Cedar Rapids Kernels 4-2 on Saturday night.  The win was the second straight for the Dragons over Cedar Rapids, putting them in position to try for the series sweep on Sunday afternoon. 

The win gave the Dragons consecutive victories for the first time since April 5-6, the second and third games of the season.  The Dragons also clinched their first road series win since July 21-23, 2018, when they won two-of-three in Beloit. 

The Dragons fell behind 1-0 in the second inning before tying the game in the top of the fourth without benefit of a base hit.  Michael Siani raced all the way around to third base on a three-base throwing error by the pitcher, and scored on Jay Schuyler’s sacrifice fly.  

Cedar Rapids jumped back ahead with a run in the bottom of the fourth, but the Dragons tied it in the fifth.  Miguel Hernandez singled with one out, went to second on a balk, and scored on Reniel Ozuna’s two-out single to make it 2-2. 

The Dragons took their first lead of the night in the top of the seventh.  They loaded the bases with two outs before Willems lined an 0-2 pitch for a hard double to the left field fence to drive in two runs and make it 4-2. 

Cedar Rapids did not have a base runner in the seventh or eighth innings, but the collected a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth.  Bennett struck out the next two hitters to lock down his second save. 

Dragons starting pitcher Jhon De Jesus worked five innings, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.  Salazar (2-0) followed De Jesus and tossed two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks with two strikeouts.  He pitched out of a bases loaded, two-out jam with the score tied in the sixth.  Bennett went the final two innings, allowing one hit and no runs with three strikeouts. 

Up Next:  The Dragons (10-18) close out the six-game road trip on Sunday against Cedar Rapids (12-16) at 3:05 (EDT).  James Marinan (1-2, 5.48) will start for Dayton against Cole Sands (0-0, 2.37).  The Dragons will try for their first road series sweep since May 1-3, 2018 at Burlington. 

The next home game is Monday, May 6 when the Dragons host the Clinton Lumber Kings at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field in the start to a six-game home stand.

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